Creating pathways to health careers through mentorship

Creating pathways to health careers through mentorship

Mentors can make a huge difference in the lives of young people. I have learned that firsthand in the last five years as a volunteer mentor for students in the Bridge to Employment (BTE) program in Wilmington, Delaware.

The BTE program, funded by Johnson & Johnson and managed by FHI 360, helps students from disadvantaged communities learn about health careers and what they need to do to enter these fields. Higher education, whether through a four-year college or a two-year technical degree, is often the outcome. A key element of the program is providing one-on-one mentoring to students to ensure college-bound students enroll and succeed.

I usually meet my mentee, Kevin, once a week. We talk about school, homework, BTE activities and how he will achieve his goals. Kevin started out as an average student, doing only what he needed to do to get by in school. After more than two years in BTE, Kevin has learned public speaking skills, confidence and more about careers and the college education he will need to achieve his goals. Now, he is an honor roll student and president of his senior class. Lately, our conversations revolve around which college Kevin will attend and what financial supports he will need.

Financial aid and scholarships will be critical to ensure that Kevin succeeds in college. This is why I am so pleased that Johnson & Johnson selected our BTE site as a cause to support through its Donate a Photo mobile application. For every photo individuals donate through the app, Johnson & Johnson will donate US$1 to BTE scholarships. Just 1,000 photo donations will provide one college scholarship to an eligible BTE high school student in need.

The number of scholarships awarded by Johnson & Johnson is dependent on the number of photos donated through the app. Individuals can donate a photo every day until May 17, 2014, or until Johnson & Johnson reaches its goal of US$20,000 (the equivalent of about 20 scholarships). Regardless of the number of photos donated, Johnson & Johnson will give at least US$10,000 to BTE scholarships.

Serving as a mentor has had a great impact on me. It consistently teaches me patience and connects me to the community. My fellow mentors are similarly committed to the students and engaged with the community. We have partnered with Connecting Generations, a local nonprofit, which provided us with training to better serve our mentees’ needs, and we have continued to work with that organization on other activities. We want to see these students succeed.

Through the BTE program, mentors are doing their part to support young people like Kevin to excel in school and graduate from college ready for a career. We need your support to make college possible through scholarships. I encourage you to help us make a difference by donating a photo today.

To donate a photo, download the mobile application at for iPhones and for Android phones. (The app only works through U.S. app stores.) Select the cause “FHI 360 and Bridge to Employment” and donate a photo. Any photo will work. All shared photos become part of the Donate a Photo online gallery.

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